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Beware of Rogue Tradesmen!

by Laura | Oct 31, 2013

Most tradesmen are honest, competent, and hard working providing a good quality service to their customers.  BUT unfortunately there are many who are not and they are costing homeowners a fortune and unnecessary stress. 

It’s estimated that cowboy builders and rogue traders cost the British public an annual £1.5 billion, leaving many people ripped off and left with botched jobs that causes problems for years to come.  Some tradesmen appear to be from legitimate firms, others will just knock at your door with tactics ranging from charging overinflated prices for shoddy work, to starting a job and then asking for more money and refusing to carry on until it’s paid.

There are, however, simple, sensible steps homeowners can make to ensure they don’t become one of the many victims affected each year. These figures may be distressing but let’s not forget there are many skilled and reputable tradesmen out there.  It’s just a matter of finding them.

Choosing a trustworthy tradesman is worth taking your time over.  By doing your research and finding out as much information as you can about the tradesman you plan to use, you can ensure your home improvements and repairs will be carried out properly.

Read our top tips to avoid being caught out in the future and to save you money, time and frustration. 

Where to go for advice

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to hiring a tradesman so it’s a good idea if at all possible to try and get a personal recommendation from family and friends.  But if you are not able to do this visit an approved website such as TrustMark (, which lists more than 23,500 licensed trades from reputable organisations, such as the NFRC.  Be wary of some ‘customer feedback’ websites as the reviews and checks may only provide a limited amount of consumer protection.

Check credentials

Check the credentials of any tradesman you are considering taking on to ensure they have the necessary skills and have been thoroughly vetted for the trade you are asking them to carry out.  By using a TrustMark registered and inspected tradesman you will have the ability to register a complaint in the event something should go wrong.  

Clear brief

It is vital that you get written quotes from at least three separate companies and you set out a detailed, clear brief for the work you want carried out on your property. Don't just go with the cheapest and consider your ability to communicate with the firm and the quality of their work.   Tempting as it is to take up an offer of a cash deal but remember that reputable tradesmen will rarely enter into this kind of work. 


Under no circumstances should you make payment for work before it is carried out and completed to your satisfaction.  There is, however, an exception when there are large works being carried out and stage payments may need to be paid to the firm following completion of that part of the job. 


Tradesmen should provide or offer you the opportunity to buy an insurance-backed warranty, especially if the job is a big one, to give you some increased protection if the firm should go out of business.  All TrustMark tradesmen can offer this service.

Written contract

Always use a written contract for your project as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong and agree in writing any changes to the original contract value.  The contract should include full details of the work being carried out, total cost and give you an idea of both when the work will be started and completed.  You should keep a record of your conversations with each tradesman and make sure you get any revisions to the original quote in writing. This will help prevent any disputes at a later date.

Check References

Once you have made your decision on which company to use request references from their recent jobs and be sure to follow them up. The majority of happy clients will be willing to provide a reference so if you are told there are none … beware!  If appropriate ask to see the completed work to get a better idea of the quality of the contractor. 

Your property is a valuable asset so ensure it is well looked after by using only reputable qualified tradesman to carry out any work.  It will also ultimately cost you less because any repairs or maintenance will last longer and add more value to your home.

I hope this blog has provided you with some useful information about how to find a reputable tradesman.  For further information about TrustMark and to find a local registered firm go to


Stuart Carter, Head of Marketing at TrustMark provides advice for homeowners on how to avoid rogue traders.  TrustMark is a Government endorsed quality mark for reputable tradesmen and works closely with the NFRC, a TrustMark scheme operator, who has been a great advocate for the scheme since the beginning and has all of its contractors TrustMark registered.